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Fort Smith, Arkansas Firefighters Save Woman from Burning Home

Stacy Ryburn
Times Record, Fort Smith, Ark.

Nov. 29 — Fort Smith firefighters and emergency responders revived an 86-year-old woman after she was trapped inside her burning home early Friday.

Battalion Chief Phil Christensen said firefighters arrived just after 1:30 a.m. to a house on fire at North 35th and L streets. The back side of the house was on fire, with flames beginning to shoot out from the roof when firefighters arrived, Christensen said.

Neighbors told crews at the scene that two people were trapped inside the home. Firefighters could not get through the front door and went through a window, where they found an elderly woman unresponsive, Christensen said.

Firefighters pulled the woman from the home and placed her in the front yard. The woman had no pulse and was not breathing. Emergency personnel administered CPR and revived the woman at the scene, Christensen said.

About 4 a.m., Christensen received word that the woman was in stable condition and had been airlifted to a burn unit in Little Rock. The woman did not appear to suffer external burn injuries, but likely had inhaled heated gases that had burned her throat and lungs, Christensen said.

The second person firefighters had suspected was inside the home was located by police at a friend’s residence. However, the woman’s adult son was inside when the fire started and had made it out safely by the time firefighters arrived. He received hospital treatment for smoke inhalation, Christensen said.

Firefighters saved the front portion of the home, but the back half of the home was charred severely. The home likely will have to be torn down, Christensen said.

Christensen estimated that it took firefighters about 25 minutes to get the fire itself under control, but remained at the scene until about 4:30 a.m. A fire marshal has yet to determine the cause of the fire. No firefighters were injured.

The home had smoke detectors that were not operational, Christensen said.

Fort Smith firefighters recommend checking smoke detectors at least twice a year. Christensen noted the department’s program in which residents can apply to receive free smoke detectors at several locations throughout the city.

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